Classroom Calendar Connections – December 2019


December is filled with significant events to be incorporated into the classroom curriculum beyond the traditional holidays that one might typically think of. This article features National Handwashing Awareness Week, National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day, and the Winter Solstice.

National Handwashing Awareness Week - December 1-7
Computer keyboards, pencils, drinking fountains, cafeteria trays, door handles, oh my! Germs seem to be lurking everywhere in schools. The good news, though, is frequent and thorough handwashing can prevent the spread of harmful germs. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, handwashing can prevent 1 in 3 gastro-intestinal related illnesses (a.k.a. diarrhea) and 1 in 5 infections such as the flu. Don’t underestimate the power of handwashing! (Aim to wash your hands for 20 seconds, which is the rough equivalent of singing “Happy Birthday” two times.)

Celebrating National Handwashing Awareness Week (December 1-7) with students is a handy (pardon the pun) way to keep yourself and your students healthy this season. Here are a few ideas to use in your classroom.

There are numerous catchy handwashing songs for young students online. For example, check out “Wash, Wash, Wash Your Hands” on YouTube. Older students (and adults) could use reminders about the importance of handwashing, too. (According to the CDC, only 31% of men and 65% of women wash their hands after using the restroom.) A few years ago, OneRepublic performed an original hand washing song on Jimmy Kimmel Live that is quite entertaining (and sure to get your older students’ attention).

Kids Health provides engaging and ready-to-go lesson plans and activities across grade levels to teach students the importance of handwashing to prevent the spread of germs, including colds and the flu:

National Pearl Harbor Day of Remembrance – December 7
December 7, 1941. A date which will live in infamy. - FDR

A few years ago, my upper elementary students and I read Pearl Harbor is Burning! By Kathleen Kudlinski which was a story about the friendship between a Japanese American and another boy who had just moved to Hawaii from the mainland of the United States. My students seemingly couldn’t get enough of the history and the personal stories behind the attack on Pearl Harbor. Discover more titles to share with students across grade levels on this Pearl Harbor book list provided by Scholastic.

Listed below are a few other resources to help you and your students commemorate National Pearl Harbor Day of Remembrance this year.

  • This article published by National Geographic Kids provides an overview about the WWII events leading up to the attack of Pearl Harbor as well as the aftermath of the attack.
  • This video produced by the U.S. Department of Interior features excerpts of President Roosevelt’s “Day of Infamy” speech. 
  • Meet a few of the last living survivors and listen to their emotional firsthand accounts of the attack on Pearl Harbor in this CBS special. 
  • Finally, Scholastic provides this comprehensive, cross-curricular lesson plan designed for students in grades 3-8. The activities involved promise to be a “learning adventure” surround the events before, during, and after the attack on Pearl Harbor.

The Winter Solstice – December 22

What is a solstice? This brief, yet informative two-minute video answers this question and more (Nat Geo style) complete with awe-inspiring photography and powerful music. For younger students, leave it to Nature Cat and his friends on PBS Kids to find out what makes the winter solstice the shortest day of the year in this two-minute video clip. For a more in-depth look at the facts and folklore behind the winter solstice read and share this Farmer’s Almanac article.

Decorate an outdoor edible tree for animals, create a winter solstice lantern, make sun ornaments… For whatever reasons, winter activates the crafty, creative part of my brain, so I loved the ideas suggested in this article for celebrating the winter solstice

“What good is the warmth of summer, without the cold of winter to give it sweetness.” – John Steinbeck

Finally, this article includes 21 quotes about winter and the solstice. Give students the opportunity to reflect through journaling about any memories, thoughts, and feelings associated with winter-related quotes that resonate with them.


Happy December, Educators! What significant events will you incorporate into your curriculum this month?

Here are a few classes related to this topic:

Jill Rockwell
Jill has over 13 years of experience as a licensed teacher in the areas of Special Education, Reading Education, and Health Education. She embraces diversity and has worked with students in grades K-12 in Wisconsin, Minnesota, and California. Jill completed her Master of Science degree at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls while teaching full time. She fully understands the soaring demands of today’s teachers. Her courses are designed to maximize the time of all educators by providing engaging, meaningful, and applicable activities which can be used to enhance teaching practices. She focuses on research-based best practices and technology integration throughout her own instructional practices. Together with her husband and two young boys, Jill enjoys traveling, biking and the changing seasons of the great outdoors in Wisconsin. 

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